Are you interested in open-minded spiritual community?
We are a friendly, liberal and inclusive church in the heart of Bolton.
To find out more have a look around our website, or join us this Sunday.
SUNDAY SERVICE BEGINS AT 10.45am
Bank Street, Bolton Town Centre, BL1 1TS
Video Welcome Message:
Our purpose is
to inspire spiritual journeys
engaging with the world
with open hearts and open minds.
February's Theme: Paradise
Expulsion from Eden grows indistinct
in the presence of flowers so blissful,
and with no disrespect to Genesis,
Hello! I'm back! Although by the time this comes out I'll have been back from my sabbatical for a couple of months, this is the first time I am writing a "Minister's Letter" in the Calendar. I think I have spoken to all members in person by now but it's worth saying again here - hello - it's good to be back with you all again.
Thank you for allowing me this time of rest and study. I'll write next month in more detail about some of the things I got up to on sabbatical. But the main thing I did was write a book (tentatively) called Seeking Paradise: A Unitarian Theology of Mission and Evangelism. I'm not going to try to summarise all of it here! But I will say that my main point is that our purpose as Unitarians, the very reason we do what we do, is to create paradise here on earth, and that we do that by realising, in some strange way, that we already live in paradise.
I think this is what Jesus taught, except he didn't use the word "paradise," the New Testament says he used the Greek word "Basileia" - a word we usually translate as "kingdom." But I think it's worth keeping the word untranslated because it reminds us that this is an idea we can't easily get our heads around. Indeed I think it takes a lifetime of effort to try to understand what Jesus meant by the Basileia.
Our purpose is to seek paradise/Basileia. Unfortunately we all know that this is a challenging task in 2017. The United States of America has a new President in Donald Trump. Now as a general rule it's right that religious groups shouldn't be too caught up in party politics. Our faith is political in the sense that we must seek justice in the world, but churches shouldn't endorse political parties and should recognise that there are legitimate disagreements we can have with each other in a free society.
However there are limits to this in extreme times. One of those extreme times was Germany in the 1920s and 1930s when many churches remained silent on the topic of politics, until it was too late. And this again, I think, is one of those times. I believe Unitarians, Christians, and all good people of faith must now make a very clear stand against Donald Trump. This is a man who incites racism and violence, who demonises Muslims, and who we have heard bragging about sexually assaulting women (this is a crime). This is an American President endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. Not only that he genuinely seems psychologically imbalanced and erratic in his behaviour. There's no way of getting away from this reality. This is not good.
Many Americans, including our sister and brother Unitarian Universalists, will be mobilising resistance in the coming months and years and we must stand with them in solidarity. The Unitarian Universalist Association have released a "Declaration of Conscience" and this is reproduced below. This is not a time for silence. It is a time for action and resistance.
But such action and resistance must be rooted in prayer and contemplation. That's what it means to seek paradise by realising we already live in paradise. It means seeing beauty and love and the spirit all around and letting that beauty and love and spirit guide us in this world. This is our mission, and for me every day it feels more and more important.
In peace and love,
Monthly Themes at Bank Street
At Bank Street Unitarian Chapel we follow a series of monthly spiritual themes, following a three-year cycle. These themes are dimensions of a healthy spiritual life and each month we are able to go deeply into each theme in worship, education and discussion. We follow the following themes:
October: Identity and Humanity
November: Peace and Non-violence
April: Crucifixion and Resurrection
November: Life and Death
March: Simplicity and Poverty
September: Science and Reason
October: Hospitality and Community
January: The Now
March: Equality and Humility
May: Vision and Beauty
A simple bring-and-share meal held after the service on the following Sundays:
15th January 2017
12th February 2017
19th March 2017